Visit a Parisian museum in Singapore
Taking over Fort Canning Centre, the Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris is the hottest new art museum in town. And just as well that the Lion City is its first overseas outpost: the museum is known for a curatorial style that seeks to forge connections between artists and their work that transcend time, cultures, origins and genres – a little like Singapore herself.
While its permanent collection includes about 50 masterpieces by Rembrandt van Rijn, Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock, the Pinacothèque inaugural feature show is The Mystery of Cleopatra. More than 200 archaelogical artefacts, theatre props and so on are on display – there’s even a funeral mask that was used to cover the face of mummies.
Learn to love the ‘Made in Singapore’ tag
We all know about German engineering and Japanese craftsmanship. But what about our own Singaporean designers? At the Fifty Years of Singapore Design exhibition at the National Design Centre, trace the evolution of the local design landscape – it’s far livelier than you think it is.
From fashion to products to architecture, the exhibition spans the gamut of the creative industries. It begins in 1965 – when the birth of our nation saw significant design initiatives such as town planning – and ends with an exploration of ‘nostalgia’ in design. So if the only Chris Lees you know are Saruman and the Channel 8 actor, here’s a good place to up your local game. (Hint: he’s the founder of Asylum, one of the island’s most respected creative agencies.)
See the Merlion’s cousin
She can be found in Tiong Bahru, and no, she’s not a mermaid. The Dancing Girl statue is the most famous resident of the Seng Poh Garden, and was designed by the man behind the Merlion: Lim Nang Seng. Unveiled in 1972, the 1.2m-tall icon is the first work of public art in the neighbourhood, but its abstract form had confused early residents – and it still does.
We think it kinda looks like the magical mop from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Others say it reminds them of a swan taking flight. (It’s actually a girl in a pleated skirt, holding a fan and doing a harvest dance.) Don’t listen to us, though – head down to the garden and cast your own judgment.
Watch a late-night carom match
So you’ve just had a big Indian meal and want to walk it off before heading home. There’s no place quite like Little India to do it – and here’s a little-known pocket of activity that happens on weekends: a carom war.
Take a left down Desker Road and make a right on Lembu Road, leading up to Mustafa Centre. You’ll come across Lembu Road Open Space park. Towards the back of the park, you’ll spot a crowd of men playing carom – think of it as a miniature version of snooker in which you flick small pucks around a board – under hanging fluorescent lights. Feel free to peek over the shoulders of the players and, if you’re up for it, throw down the gauntlet and challenge ’em.
Groove to tunes in the park
It’s not just greenery you can enjoy at the Botanic Gardens. In the heart of the park, on an islet, sits the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage: an idyllic venue for open-air concerts.
There are performances every month – these include anything from jazz and Latin to pop and R&B – but the Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s biannual SSO in the Park series is the most popular. So pack a picnic, bring the whole family, and chope a spot right by the water’s edge.